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Deals On The Horizon? LIRR Admits It May Need To Get Creative To Eventually Get Ridership Back To Pre-Pandemic Levels

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- The Long Island Rail Road is suffering trough plummeting monthly ridership.

With workers going back in only two or three days a week, will the railroad try new ticket plans to lure commuters and give them some good deals?

Mariko Berger is changing her commuting habits from Long Island to the boroughs as both an in-person and remote New York City school teacher.

"It's in Queens so I drive," Berger told CBS2's Jennifer McLogan on Monday. "If you make it cheaper, people might come back."

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Sales of the LIRR monthly commuter passes have dropped drastically during the pandemic by almost 85%.

"I usually take the LIRR for work, but I've been working from home now," commuter Shiva Pathak said.

Studies show many workers will go back into the office only part-time in September.

"There is no reason to buy a monthly ticket if you are only going in two or three days a week," said Kyle Strober of the Association for a Better Long Island. "So the LIRR and MTA, they are going to have to evolve. They will have to adapt to potentially the new the post-pandemic work week."

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Metropolitan Transportation Authority board member and Commuter Council president Gerard Bringmann said, "I think we really need to come up with a 20-trip ticket, which would be 10 round trips, which for your twice-a-week people, they would only have to buy a ticket like once a month."

Commuters say they want choices.

"We are being very open minded to different ticket types, to see how we handle those folks who no longer need the monthly tickets, and finding a ticket that works for everybody and gets them out of the car," LIRR President Phillip Eng said.

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Commuters told McLogan they are less inclined to drive if offered discounted trip tickets.

The MTA has projected it may take until 2025 to get just 80% if its riders back, McLogan reported.

"Meet us somewhere in the middle where it's affordable for us to take the Long Island Rail Road," commuter Dominique Roberts said.

"The way the pandemic has affected everybody, lower prices would definitely entice people," commuter Ali Ghozati added.

For now, the LIRR has suspended peak fares, but that is not expected to last.

The MTA board said it's listening.

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